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Old Feb 13, 2013, 05:50 PM   #1
Subkultured
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Inherited e2009 Mac Pro; been out of the loop. What can I do to get it up to speed?

Hey MR!

I recently inherited an 8-core (2 x 2.66 GHz) Early 2009 Mac Pro, which was purchased for use by my father's company and, from my understanding, performed functions that one would buy a MacBook Air for. The only hardwares upgrade made on the machine are the addition of a small SSD (configured to store the OS and applications; the Home folder is on the default HDD) and four sticks of OWC RAM. The graphics processor seems to be the stock model for the machine's year--the ATI Radeon HD 4870.

I'm a guy with a background in visual design and motion graphics and an ambitious hobbyist in front-end web development. Right now, I use a pretty custom build of some of the higher end components available from last year's market, put together to run Windows 7. Not too shabby at all, no complaints--but I've been wanting to jump over to an OS X environment for years now.

I just did a clean wipe of the computer, freshened up with a new install of Mac OS X 10.7 on the SSD and a bootcamp partition to run Windows 7 on. I'm planning on buying another HDD or two for storage, and I think 16 GB RAM sounds about right for the work I'll be doing these days (though an upgrade doesn't sound too bad in the future).

My question, as a person with very limited knowledge of the Mac Pro line, is what are the rest of my options (if any) in terms of upgrading my Early 2009 Mac Pro to be on-par with Apple's offerings today? What, more broadly, does the upgradeability scene look like for the Mac Pro line? What do you suggest, in the context of both hardware and perhaps even software, I should do to maximize the performance and/or lifespan of the machine?

I would appreciate any advice or suggestions offered; I apologize if the information I am looking for is easily searchable. I can't really put together a solid, reliable source of information from forum searches--I'd feel much more confident getting a more comprehensive round-up from a targeted set of questions.

Thanks!
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Old Feb 13, 2013, 06:02 PM   #2
VirtualRain
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Congrats. That machine is still extremely capable, even as it is now. I have a single quad core (2.93) from 2009 and all I've done to it is continue to add more SSD storage over the years and I never feel like it's holding me back. Given SSD drives are relatively cheap, there's probably no reason for you to continue storing your home directory on an old-fashioned HD.

If you want to get more SSD storage, look at drives from Samsung, Crucial, and Intel. 512GB drives can be had for as little as $350 now. If you want you could even run a couple in RAID0 for added performance using Disk Utility to setup the RAID array.

I would then use the HD you've got for backup duty (with Time Machine or some other backup utility)

There are very few applications in OSX besides games that really leverage the GPU so you'r probably fine with the 4870, but if you want to look at alternatives, the fastest Apple supported card is the 5870 but there are other GPU solutions if you poke around the forum here.

Agreed that 16GB of RAM is good.

That's about all I can think of.
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Old Feb 13, 2013, 06:15 PM   #3
thekev
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That was a higher end configuration at the time. It's still faster in cpu terms than anything outside of the 12 core mac pros. I see no reason to change that. You mentioned motion graphics, yet you didn't mention software or the size of your projects. Just make sure it has enough ram for your uses. If you're using something like Cinema 4D for graphics, upgrade graphics card if your viewport lags. This is still a very fast computer, and there's no way to prescribe generic upgrades unless something is woefully out of date. For example if you're running Mountain Lion and the latest version of whatever 3d software and after effects or something like that and the ram is 4 x 1GB sticks, it would be a safe bet to suggest you should bump that. Other than that it simply depends on your needs.
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